How do you dispose of your hospital discharge papers once you no longer need them?

A visit to the hospital can be a scary experience, but a lot of care and consideration goes into the safety of patients, especially upon discharge.

Once a patient is healthy, a doctor will order discharge papers to take home so that care can continue beyond the hospital stay. Hospital discharge papers are a summary of the patient’s hospital stay, from the time of admission to the time of release, which includes admitting diagnosis, discharge diagnosis, procedures performed, discharge medications, discharge instructions, and recommendations and follow-up instructions.

Patients, family caregivers, and healthcare providers all play roles in maintaining a patient’s health after discharge. Effective discharge planning can decrease the chances of hospital readmission, help in recovery, ensure medications are prescribed and given correctly, and adequately prepare for all post-visit care. This is a significant part of the overall care plan, but often times patients forget about the safekeeping of the information contained in the discharge documents.

Once a patient has recovered fully, it’s important to file away discharge papers and keep them for as long as healthcare providers require. Of course, hospitals have different rules on retention; according to the Department of Health and Human Services, the HIPAA Privacy Rule has no requirements on medical record retention at a doctor’s office. How long a doctor is required to keep a chart is based on what each state’s legislation decides.

While the HIPAA Privacy Rule does not determine how long a chart must be kept at a doctor’s office, it does require that any covered entities apply all safety guidelines necessary to protect the privacy of all patients, for as long as their medical information is being stored at a particular facility.

Home care is a bit different. If you’re unsure of how long to retain your discharge papers, speak with your doctor. You may want to hang onto them until you are completely healed, or at least make a digital copy to keep indefinitely. When it’s time to dispose of your discharge papers, do not put them in the regular trash for disposal, as the information can easily be compromised once it’s put to the curb.

Hospital discharge paper shredding is the only safe and secure solution to ensuring identity protection. Of course, don’t forget to include your hospital ID bracelet, which also contains sensitive information such as your name and date of birth. Do not place this in the regular trash for the same reasons; your identity relies on the safe destruction of all of these materials.

No job is too small for Legal Shred. If you need to safely destroy your discharge papers and hospital identification bracelet, call us to schedule a one-time pickup. Our skilled technicians will come to your residence or place of business and shred the materials on the spot. We’ll help maintain security and privacy requirements to keep your personal information safe.

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Hospital Discharge Paper Shredding

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